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Madigan sues to stop Burge pension

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed suit Monday to strip convicted former Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge of his $3,000-a-month pension.

Madigan said a police pension board was wrong to let Burge keep it in light of his conviction and sentencing for lying about the torture of crime suspects.

Burge was sentenced last month to 4

1/2 years in prison after being convicted in June of perjury and obstruction of justice for lying in his testimony in a civil lawsuit that he never participated in or witnessed the physical abuse of crime suspects while he was a Chicago police officer.

The Retirement Board of the Policemen’s Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago considered taking away Burge’s pension. But that effort failed on a 4-4 vote, spurring protests by police-torture victims and others, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

Burge’s supporters on the pension board, all police officers, argued that his felony conviction involved his testimony after he retired, so it wasn’t, as state law specifies, directly “relating to, arising out of or in connection” with his official duties. Non-police officers voted against Burge.

Officer Mike Shields was one of the trustees who voted for Burge to keep his pension. He blasted Madigan for suing the pension board without attending the hearing or obtaining a transcript.

“She does not know the facts that were discussed,” Shields said. “Now there is a political hot-button issue, and she is going to sue? If you remove Jon Burge from this case and base it on the Illinois pension code and case law, you would vote exactly the way I did.”

Shields and the other officers were wrong, Madigan argues in the lawsuit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court against Burge and the police pension board.

In addition to halting Burge’s pension, she is asking a judge to order Burge to repay any pension benefits he has received since his Jan. 21 sentencing.

“Jon Burge forfeited his right to a public pension when he lied about his knowledge of and participation in the torture and physical abuse of suspects,” Madigan said. “It’s this type of criminal conduct by a public servant that our pension forfeiture laws were designed to discourage. The public should never have to pay for the retirement of a corrupt public official.”

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